I love Phoenix Comicon. I have been going for years and years, so when the mention of Phoenix Fan Fest came about I was so pumped. We actually timed our much-needed vacation around getting to come to Fan Fest. After traveling over 900 miles, the best way I can describe Fan Fest is “Needs Improvement”.
I loved seeing old favorites. Travis Hanson, Steam Crow, Kids Need To Read, the whole Star Wars gang, all crowd favorites. It was so wonderful getting to share these favorites with Geek Baby as well. He shot Greedo, got pins from Kids Need To Read and we are going to look into making Geek Baby a Steam Crow Scout.
I also really enjoyed find some fun new vendors to love on. We loved being there for the introduction of the Arizona Autobots, which Geek Dad really squeed about. We saw yarn plushes, geek jewelry (with a time turner I really REALLY wanted, maybe for my birthday Geek Dad?!), and there was one booth with geek baby gear. They had onesies and super adorable frilly onesies and dresses for little geek girls.
There was also a lot of fun activities outside. This is the first time PCC has had a big outdoor space to work with and they took advantage of it with big bouncy slides and obstacle-like, activities for the mini-humans. There was also knight jousting, the Umbrella Corporation and a Jedi Santa (more on him below.)
It was also very roomy with nice wide aisles and definitely free of nerd funk due to very high stadium ceilings. Also it was so cool; I kept a hoody on the whole time with no problems. Also, as a bonus, there was pretty decent cell reception in the open exhibitor hall. I was able to be on social media with no problems.
The Bad (with suggestions)
I know it was Friday, but man was it slow. We never saw more than 20 people at a time in every direction we looked. There could have been many reasons for the light crowd, but here is what we (Geek Dad and myself) think:
- This con was so close to the holidays that is limited not only people’s funds for spending in and on the con, but also on getting time off to go.
- There wasn’t a ton of draw besides the old Doctor Who Doctors and a few other nostalgic guests. There was nothing that was like ‘Oh My GOD! Shut-up and take my money!’ PCC does a good job of staying fresh and adding new things every year to keep you coming back among the old favorites. Phoenix Fan Fest needs to figure out what they can bring that is unique and different that will make people come. It also should be something that only Phoenix Fan Fest will have versus being at both PCC and Phoenix Fan Fest.
- Very little time to hype it up. Seriously, why put this con together if it couldn’t be everything they wanted it to be? They talked so much about how customers wanted a con during the cool time of year so they could go nuts. But there were hardly any customers. Yes, there were people that dressed-up, but it wasn’t the parade and extravaganza that Phoenix expects. Maybe knowing that there will be a con every 6 months in Phoenix will help customers with their creation timelines. Additionally, PCC is go big or go home, this one was like ‘hey we should do this and just see who shows up.’
- There were a lot of limited rules as well, lemme-splain:
- First and foremost, note that these are not PCC/Fan Fest’s rules, they are the stadiums, but too many limitations.
- No outside food or drinks. Every con I have ever been to I could bring my own snacks. This is important to me because I have low-blood sugar and if I don’t do this, I will pass out. Being forced to eat third-rate, over-priced vendor food sucks. Cardinal Stadium has so many great food options, but none were available to the guests. Fan Fest tried to help by offering food trucks outside the event, but even after making the seriously long trek back upstairs, there were only two. All the surrounding restaurants were also pretty far away.
- Nowhere to rest. While there was a small section with tables and chairs, there was nowhere else to seat inside. There are over 63,000 seats in the stadium, but you couldn’t sit in any of them. Seriously, WHAT!
- No privacy. While this isn’t usually something people think about, I am still breastfeeding my son. I needed a place where I could sit and feed him. Usually, at PCC and other places there is a costumers lounge or a press room, there was neither at Phoenix Fan Fest. I would have even settled for a lounge chair like the Phoenix Convention Center has lining the hallways of panel rooms, but those weren’t even available. I was lucky enough to find a sympathetic volunteer to let me hide behind a sign and give me a chair so Geek Baby could eat. (Thank you kind madam! I refuse to ever breastfeed in a bathroom stall and I really didn’t want to make a bunch of nerds uncomfortable by sitting out in the open doing my business.)
- Some technical issues: Need to better label the rooms where the panels were held, they need to make louder/more announcements before panels started, and by being so far West it really alienated the East Valley fans who would have to drive an hour to get there.
- Jedi Santa pissed me off!!! Seriously, WTH! This is my first son’s first holiday season. I held off on taking him to see Santa and get my customary first Santa picture. When I saw that there was going to be a Jedi Santa, I was so pumped! We waited an extra hour to make sure we got to see him, then we saw him strolling up to his seat and I got overwhelmingly angry. With all the amazing customers that Fan Fest had at their disposal, hell with the 501st and Rebel Legion having their biggest booth space, this guy was the best they could do. He had bright white store-bought wig for crying out loud! Santa should have his own beard, and be actually old, and not look like some crappy college kid who showed up to half-ass Christmas. Oh, and what was up with that crappy set. Yea, NO! Seriously Phoenix Fan Fest, do this again and do it RIGHT! There is no excuse for that!
Overall, Phoenix Fan Fest was underwhelming and a little disappointing knowing that it was put on by PCC. I hope version 2.0 can be better especially with the suggestions given by the fans.
BTW this is my family. Adorbs, right!? (Yes, we dressed my son up as Donald Duck.)